Industry dives into NS2020 draft

Shutterstock image (by Sergey Nivens): information networks.

(Image: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock)

Industry is beginning to digest the 13 documents and several hundred pages of the draft request for proposals for the General Services Administration's next big telecommunications effort.

GSA released a draft RFP on Feb. 28 for the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions acquisition that will be the foundation of Network Services 2020. NS2020 is intended to make GSA the strategic sourcing center for network-based and network-enabled services, and will replace GSA's aging Networx contracting vehicle.

The EIS RFP covers a range of services, including data, voice, co-located data centers, cloud and wireless. When complete, GSA said, EIS will be available for agency use in fiscal 2017 and will run 15 years.

"While the draft RFP is still undergoing review by companies, their initial concerns with the approach are likely to crystallize as they review the documents posted on FedBizOpps," said Erica McCann, director of federal procurement for the Information Technology Alliance for the Public Sector at the Information Technology Industry Council.

McCann said ITAPS would work with GSA and its member companies, which include Amazon Web Services, AT&T, CenturyLink and other big tech names, "to find solutions that will prepare the government for the future of networked services procurements by keeping the RFP open to innovation."

McCann said that because the vehicle is being built for the long haul, "we must keep an open mind about what networked services will even look like 10 years from now."

Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, said that the long haul considerations are the biggest issue for GSA's new telecommunications strategy. "This has been a long time coming," he said. "GSA has put in a lot of time collaborating with industry and planning for this. In the meantime, telecom solutions haven't stood still."

Today's more diffuse telecommunications environment, where agencies can order those services from the federal schedule, multiple award contracts and government-wide acquisition vehicles, and use a wide range of different technologies, makes it a much more difficult environment to plan ahead, he said. Things become even more complicated for GSA because it must support many aging legacy systems still chugging along in federal agencies.

Technology, Allen added, has a way of disrupting settled plans. "Cloud solutions couldn't have been completely understood when GSA started planning" their NS2020 strategy a few years ago, he said. While agencies waited for the last few big GSA telecom contracts, like FTS-2001 and Networx, to handle their services, the NS2020 strategy probably won't have that luxury.

"Not everyone is waiting for NS2020," Allen said, noting that agencies are "upgrading through MACs, GWACs and other sources."

"GSA should certainly have a telecom offering, though" he said -- adding that GSA's next offering needs to break away from the traditional.

GSA officials declined to comment on the details in the draft RFP, but promised further information in the coming days. The agency plans a media roundtable March 4 with EIS program managers and acquisition services leaders, and Mary Davie, assistant commissioner for Integrated Technology Services at the Federal Acquisition Service, will be doing additional outreach.

And as the RFP is a draft, GSA wants comments from potential providers and agencies on what they'd like to see in the final version. That feedback is due on March 31.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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